CCME-II Scholar working to increase public use of red tide forecasts

Andrea Pugh-Kelley

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working to discern the effectiveness of its red tide forecasting tool, particularly among underserved communities. NOAA’s Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting (HABF) platform provides current and short-term forecasts of respiratory impacts caused by red tide (Karenia brevis) toxins at local beaches. Health officials use the early warning system to guide beach and shellfish harvesting closures. The agency’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) states that the tool also helps area seafood and tourism industry leaders minimize impacts from the annual toxic algal blooms. However, stakeholders remain unsure of the platform’s community effectiveness and perceptions.  

“This tool is one of a couple out there that I don’t think a lot of people know about,” said Alison Barlow, executive director of St. Petersburg’s Innovation District. “And it can help them make decisions around their exposure. “I also think that as young people, particularly, start to use prediction tools like this, they start to see opportunities for future careers.”

Ashley Lacey, a PhD candidate at Florida A&M University, was once one of those young people. She will soon become an environmental scientist and created a local public information campaign as part of her dissertation. READ THE ARTICLE